What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

An Overview of AP Categories

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Shravya Kakulamarri in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.


What’s Covered:



There are 38 AP classes in total, and all of them fall into three broad categories. This article will give an overview of the content and structure of each type of AP class.


The Three AP Categories


The main categories of AP classes: AP Capstone Diploma classes, AP STEM classes, and AP humanities classes. Each category covers a different subject area, but they all have the same goal of preparing you for college coursework. 


The difficulty of each AP category differs depending on your teacher and high school. Your own interest in the AP subject you are studying will affect how challenging you find it as well. Regardless of each class’s difficulty, it is best to have a balanced course load that includes AP classes from various categories — with a slight focus on taking classes related to your spike


Of course, how many AP classes you can take — if any at all — depends on the course offerings at your high school. If there is a category of AP classes that is not offered by your school but piques your interest, you may be able to take the classes online by talking with your guidance counselor. Self-studying is always an option too.


What Is The AP Capstone Diploma Program?


The AP Capstone Diploma program is a two-year program that’s based on two courses — AP Seminar and AP Research, which are both one year long. Any student can take AP Seminar, though they can only take AP Research after passing AP Seminar. Those who complete the full diploma program as well as four other AP classes can earn academic awards with global recognition.


The main benefit of the AP Capstone Diploma program is that it will help you produce research that will stand out to colleges, since few high school students have the opportunity to conduct research. Your research project will largely be conducted independently, with your AP Research teacher serving mostly as an advisor. Your research will especially help you in the admissions process if it fits within your spike and major of interest.


AP Seminar is the only AP course that cannot be self-studied, since the class requires a final research paper instead of an exam. If AP Seminar is not offered at your high school or through an online provider, that is completely fine — you can essentially replicate the class so long as you are able to find a research mentor, conduct original research, write a research paper, and present your work at events such as local science fairs.


Tips about AP STEM and Humanities Classes


AP STEM classes include AP Physics, AP Chemistry, and AP Biology, among others. Perhaps most importantly, there’s AP Calculus AB and BC. If you’re going into any type of STEM major, you should aim to take the highest level of AP Calculus offered by your school. In fact, all students who want to apply to Top 20 schools should take AP Calculus AB at a minimum, regardless of their intended major. 


AP English Language and Composition and AP English Literature and Composition are two essential APs in the humanities category. No matter where your interests lie or what you are planning on majoring in, these two classes will help you build strong critical reading and writing skills that are important for any career path. More generally, they will improve your ability to articulate your thoughts.